3+ME: ‘Nope, Daddy’s going with his friends’

As I wrap my hands around a steaming mug of coffee in the cozy indoors, I can almost (almost) forget how frigid it is on the other side of those office windows.

I hate the cold.

But my husband…

That frigidness outside? Yeah, he goes camping in that.

He — voluntarily, mind you — takes backpacking trips. In New England. In February. And he isn’t alone; his crazy friends do it with him. (Which is good, because it would be a cold day in hell … or a hot day in New Hampshire? … before I’d go with him.)

Somehow, these guys actually ENJOY being miles away from civilization in the dead of winter. (???!)

But I think it’s awesome he has things he likes to do on his own (even if I think those things are nuts).

And I think it’s also a good example to set for the kiddos.

Even though it’s awesome for the kids to see us spending time together, it’s ALSO important for them to see us support each other in our own Things.

We were all having dinner, talking about some upcoming plans for the month.

“And one of these weekends, I’m gonna go camping,” my husband mentioned.

“Camping?” my 7-year-old stepdaughter asked. “Are we coming?”

She didn’t seem horrified by the idea, but I don’t think she quite connected that he meant camping. Outdoors. In. Winter.

(Or maybe that wouldn’t have bothered her. She’s a tough cookie.)

“No no,” my husband and I answered simultaneously, and explained the whole “winter” part.

She seemed to process this. Then she looked at me.

“Are you going?”

Again, I heartily denied it.

“Nope, Daddy’s going with his friends.”

As I said the words, I paused.

“Nope, Daddy’s going with his friends.”

It occurred to me how infrequently I say them.

Almost always, he and I do things together. And the kids see us do things together. Which is great, for a whole host of reasons.

But for them to see him doing something on his own, with his own friends, and without me, is also pretty great in its own way.

Just as time together shows them one part of a healthy relationship, time apart reminds them that their dad and I are also still individuals, with our own interests and our own independence.

ON OUR OWN (together)

Sometimes those interests do still merge with spending time together.

For example, in the past few months, I’ve been putting a lot of effort into promoting my artwork. Drawings and paintings have been all over the house as I’ve been prepping for art shows — and the kids have seen it.

They know art is my thing. It most definitely is not my husband’s.

But what they’ve also seen is, even though art is definitely not my husband’s thing, he still supports me in it. We talk about it in front of the kids, he helps me prepare for the shows, and he even brings the kids for a visit or watches them for a few hours while I man my booth.

He’s setting a great example of how to be there for his significant other’s “thing,” even though it isn’t his.

ON OUR OWN (on our own)

But sometimes, we can still pursue our own interests by ourselves. And that’s healthy, too.

Like his midwinter trip.

February camping is his thing. It is most definitely not mine.

But I will happily support him from the sidelines — and you know what? That counts.

Because if I held him back or made him feel bad about his interest, that would discourage him from going. Instead, I’m excited he’s taking that weekend for himself.

As much as I generally want to hoard his time all to myself, it’s important he still does what makes him happy.

Even if it’s without me.

Even if that means spending the night the winter woods (crazy human).

And that’s a good thing for the kids to hear.

Originally published in The Herald News on Feb. 3, 2019.

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